Tinotenda and his bike

A teenage orphan at risk of dropping out of school now has a better chance of completing his education thanks to work by Jesuits in southern Africa.

Tinotenda Majoni, 16, lost his father when he was just four years old. Two years later, his mother died.

Fortunately, his grandmother, Gogo Chipo Majoni, was able to take him in and has provided excellent care for him at their home in Seke Rural, on the outskirts of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

However, they live more than 5km away from Tinotenda’s school – Jonasi Secondary – where he has been studying for the past four years.

With little transport options available, he was forced to walk the long distance to and from school, often along unsuitable roads with little lighting.

Now, thanks to a programme supported by Jesuit Missions (JM), Tinotenda is able to cycle between his house and his place of education.

He was one of dozens of students across southern Africa – comprising Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – who received new bikes.

This formed part of a wider scheme, which saw some 416 pupils given some form of support that will enable them to carry on with their studies.

A report presented to JM by Synodia Mahachi, deputy director at the Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, noted: “Covid-19 wreaked havoc in the four countries and affected the livelihoods of many people, thereby increasing the level of vulnerability among disadvantaged members of the community.

“This worsened an already bad situation, resulting in further job losses and an increase in the number of orphans, most of whom needed assistance to be able to continue with their education.

“The project sought to respond to this increased level of vulnerability in the southern Africa Province, by retaining learners in school, who would otherwise be forced to drop out of school by circumstances that are beyond their control.”

Other initiatives that supported the students included covering their bus fare to and from school, the provision of medicines and sanitary products, and counselling from faith leaders.

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